Future of the Boat Race is at risk because of Thames pier plan, warns MP

The annual event was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, and was held under restrictions in Cambridgeshire in 2021.

David Lynch
Thursday 31 March 2022 17:48 BST
(PA) (PA Wire)

The future of the Boat Race may be put at risk by plans for a new pier on the Thames, ministers have been told.

MP for Putney Fleur Anderson told the Commons that plans by Fulham Football Club to build a pier extending into the Thames outside its home ground could be disruptive and dangerous for people boating on the river, including those participating in the annual competition between Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The Boat Race is due to take place this weekend, after two years of disruption.

Rowing past Craven Cottage (Anthony Delvin/PA) (PA Archive)

The annual event was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, and was held under restrictions in Cambridgeshire in 2021.

Labour MP Ms Anderson said: “The future of Putney Boat Race on the Thames and all sport and all the river clubs on Putney embankment are begin put at risk by a proposal by Fulham Football Club to build an 80-metre pier out into the river which will have then a clipper ferry stop, which if it runs will make sport, rowing and sailing too dangerous on the river, especially for all the young people who use it.

“There are about 4,000 members across 41 clubs along the river who will be impacted, those 4,000 members use this stretch of the river on average about twice a week.

“As well as 30,000 participants in rowing races in the first quarter of the year, there are approximately 1,400 children from clubs and rowing centres near the Fulham Football Club and that part of the river who use it several items a week.”

Intervening, Conservative MP Bob Stewart (Beckehnam) said: “I can’t see how an 80-metre pier into the Thames can actually be allowed to happen in planning terms because it is so much used there, particularly rowing. It is wonderful.”

Ms Anderson replied: “Please do join the campaign, we have got a petition he can sign. You are not alone in being incredulous about how this can be allowed to go ahead.”

She added: “I hope Fulham Football Club will see this, will listen to all of these clubs and stop these plans to build this dangerous huge pier out into the river. I hope the minister can take this up with DCMS ministers as well and that we can talk about this and the future of the boat race will be secured.”

Commons Speaker Mark Spencer wished “all those participating in Putney all the best”.

Fulham FC is redeveloping the riverside stand of its Craven Cottage home ground, which is upriver from Putney Bridge.

Within the plans are the proposed new passenger pier, which could be used for trips to and from the ground.

Fulham FC was contacted for comment.

The Boat Race traditionally takes place over a four-mile stretch of the Thames, starting at Putney and ending up river at Mortlake.

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